“Young gag grouper will live in oyster reefs, estuaries and seagrass beds from Massachusetts to Cape Canaveral, Florida. The coloration of red grouper helps to distinguish this species from gag with its head and body being dark reddish brown, shading pink or reddish or even pale pink along the lower part of its body,” Nash said.
“In North Carolina, gag will typically spawn in February and have clear larvae, which then make their way into estuaries. As water temperatures start to go down in the fall, juvenile gag will migrate from estuaries to offshore hard bottom habitat and larger members of their species,” said Seward.
Seward noted that all grouper are considered protogynous intersex, “that is they start their lives as females, and a part of the population will morph, or make the change, to males as they get older. Females start to reach sexual maturity when they are about 24 inches in total length and about 3 years old.
They are voracious predators, and will feed on whatever they can capture including scad, snapper, grunt, sardines, crabs, porgies, shrimp and squid, said Seward. Red grouper sitting on sand habitat 45 degrees to camera full body view mouth open.
In addition to their color, red grouper can be distinguished from gag by the sloped, straight line of their spiny dorsal fin. “The red grouper is also a protogynous intersex and females are sexually mature by the time they reach 4 years old,” Seward said.
Females typically will let go an average of 1.5 million pelagic eggs that stay at the surface for between 30-40 days before finally settling down to the bottom. “Red grouper may live to be as old as 25 years of age, with older specimens reaching a size of 32.5 inches and up to 25 pounds.
They will feed on lobster, shrimp, octopus, crabs and fish that are found close to their preferred reef habitat,” Seward said. Bottom fishing is the best way to catch gag grouper, using live bait, including squid and cigar minnows.
Use a depth finder to find deep-water rock ledges, artificial reefs and shipwrecks, a gag grouper ’s favorite hiding place. An annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure runs Jan. 1-April 30 in federal waters off the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina, except red grouper, for which the season remains closed until June 1.
Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for the snapper grouper species. “This prohibition does not apply to fish harvested, landed and sold before the annual catch limit is reached and held in cold storage by a dealer,” said North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Executive Assistant to Councils Steve Poland, who is also a representative with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
A stock assessment update, Sedan 53, for red grouper was completed in February 2017 using data through 2015. Therefore, on Sept. 27, 2017, NFS sent a letter to the council stating that the South Atlantic red grouper stock was not making adequate progress toward rebuilding.
“For red grouper, this final rule extends the closure season formerly from January to April, to January through May of each year for the next ten years for the commercial and recreational portions off North and South Carolina, and establishes a commercial trip limit,” said Poland. This final rule establishes a commercial trip limit for red grouper harvested in the South Atlantic EEA of 200 pounds, gutted weight.
The trip limit is expected to help rebuild the red grouper stock by discouraging directed commercial fishing for the species, although it is not likely to substantially reduce the current level of commercial harvest of red grouper, according to the National Register. “The council selected a commercial trip limit that in combination with extending the spawning season cloture for red grouper off North Carolina and South Carolina would help keep down harvest numbers to help rebuild the stock,” Poland said.
You can help pay some cost by sponsoring a day on CRO for as little as $100 or by donating any amount you're comfortable with. Gag grouper have long, compressed bodies and 11 to 14 rays in the anal fins.
Smaller fish are much lighter and have numerous dark brown or charcoal kiss-like marks along the sides. The scamp, M. final, and black grouper, M. Monaco, closely resemble the gag and often occur in the same habitat.
Gag have deeply notched properties, distinguishing them from black grouper. Spawning takes place in February off the coast of the Carolina's and in January through March in the Gulf of Mexico.
Gag may live for 26 years and grow to be 58 inches in length and weigh up to 81 pounds. Gag often congregate around rocky ledges and swim in small groups.
They are predators of round scad, sardines, porgies, snappers, grunts, crabs, shrimp and squid. The caudal (tail) and anal fins of the gag have white margins, while the black grouper does not.
Open Season : May 1 – December 31 Note: since this species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit, the fishery could close if the recreational Annual Catch Limit is met or projected to be met. If an in- season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here.
At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage. Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.
Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing. The use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper- grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude.
All species must be landed with head and fins intact Recreational Bag Limit sales are prohibited Open Season : May 1 – December 31 Note: since this species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit, the fishery could close if the commercial Annual Catch Limit is met or projected to be met.
Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species. At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage.
Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet. Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.
The use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper- grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude. This prohibition does not apply to fish harvested, landed, and sold prior to the annual catch limit being reached and held in cold storage by a dealer.
Based on the current guidance to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the NC DEQ has adjusted operations to protect the health & safety of the staff & public. Also, new gear requirements for the snapper- grouper fishery will go into effect shortly after the red snapper season opens.
Stacy Fishing Center, Atlantic Beach Carolina Princess head boat dock, Forehead City Anglers who donate a red snapper carcass will receive a citation (certificate) from the N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament.
The information collected will be provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service for use in future red snapper stock assessments. Reports of the number of harvested and released fish will improve the accuracy of National Marine Fisheries Service’s catch estimates.
The commercial red snapper season will open July 13 with a 75-pound gutted weight trip limit. Division biologists will obtain data from commercially caught red snapper at the fish houses.
A descending device must be on board and readily available for use while fishing for or possessing snapper- grouper species; and, Use of non-offset (also called inline), non-stainless-steel circle hooks when fishing for or possessing snapper- grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits, regardless of tackle or lure configuration. I’d like to say that effective on May 1, things will be right again for fishermen seeking cobra and shallow water grouper.
There may be more changes coming after the cobra stock ID assessment is completed in June and/or if East Coast cobra management is transferred from NOAA Fisheries to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The road to the current season and catch regulations has been long, with several detours and a lot of potholes.
The 2018 N.C. recreational cobra season opens on May 1 and is scheduled to run through December 31. The possession limit for recreational fishermen from shore or piers is one cobra per fisherman per day.
Fishermen on private recreational boats have a change in their limit during the season. Fishermen on for-hire boats may keep one cobra per person up to a maximum of four or one per fisherman, whichever is less.
Shallow water grouper is a fishery complex that includes black, gag, scamp, red, red hind, rock hind, Coney, grays by, yellow fin and yellow mouth grouper. The shallow water grouper season reopens at 12:01 A.M. on May 1, with a 3-fish aggregate limit of all the species.
Black and gag grouper have a minimum size of 24 inches total length (tip of lower jaw to end of tail) and the others have a 20-inch total length minimum size. The proposed rule would reduce the annual catch limits for South Atlantic red grouper more than 80 percent in response to lower numbers of red grouper in the latest population assessment.
The proposed rule would reduce the total and sector annual catch limits (Acts) for red grouper to allow the species to recover from overfishing. Comments submitted by mail should be sent to Frank Relies, Southeast Regional Office, NFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
His writing features this area prominently, but he has fished and written about the East Coast from Virginia to Florida, the Gulf Coast, California, Alaska and several of the Great Lakes in the U.S., plus several countries in Central America and several Caribbean Islands. No one has ventured a guess as to why there are so many huge gag grouper being caught this summer, but everyone is glad to hear the stories and see the pictures.
In addition, several huge gags have been caught that weren’t eligible for state records because the anglers used electric reels to wrestle them from the depths. The barrage of big gags began on May 1 when Jim Lasher of Isle of Palms, S.C. headed offshore with some coworkers and Capt.
Floyd kept an eye on his fish finder on the way in and pulled back the throttle on a piece of structure in 160 feet of water. Lasher dropped a 6 ounce Pro Buck tail Jig, sweetened with a small piece of cut bait, to the bottom and the deal was on.
Lasher first weighed it at Isle of Palms Marina and then at Harrell’s Point Tackle to confirm the weight. Lasher called the South Carolina DNR office, but it was after hours and no one was available to check the fish until the next morning.
A pair of brothers from N.C. caught their gag grouper of a lifetime several weeks apart in June. However, both recorded their largest gag groupers ever this year and the fish were approximately three weeks and three miles apart.
He was fishing in 180 feet of water approximately 40 miles out of Beaufort Inlet when the big gag hit. He had the drag tightened down all the way and the fish took line easily enough he thought it might be a shark or big amber jack.
Neither he, nor his fishing buddy Bradley Brown were prepared to see the big grouper that rolled up beside the boat. It was hours later when they opened the fish box to take it to the certified scales at Chain’ Tails Outdoors and NG said it looked larger than he remembered.
Several weeks later Alex NG headed offshore on a grouper trip with his brother Anthony. They couldn’t help but talk about Alex’s big fish as they headed to another structure a few miles away from where it had been caught.
Anthony NG said they had a couple of nice grouper in the fish box when a big dolphin swam by. Alex had just rebated, but not dropped over, so he grabbed a spinning rod and cast a bait towards the dolphin.
Anthony said it ran so far he was just waiting for that telltale twitch as the line rubs a rock and breaks, but it never came. His main purpose on this trip was to introduce his kids, Summer and Sawyer, to dolphin fishing, hoping they would like catching them as much as he had as a youngster.
After trolling for a while, he realized he was near a ledge that had produced several nice grouper in the past, so he stopped to make a couple of drops and see if there was anyone home this time. NOTE: The current N.C. gag grouper record is 47 pounds, 4 ounces and is held by Greece Gaul with a fish caught off Wrightsville Beach last year.
A spokesman with the NC Division of Marine Fisheries confirmed that at least one state record application has been received and is being vetted. Coastal Recreational Fishing License: Persons engaged in recreational fishing in North Carolina coastal waters are required to possess a Coastal Recreational Fishing License in accordance with G.S.
48 quarts (heads on) or 30 quarts (heads off) of shrimp per person per day or if vessel is used, per vessel per day (CGL max. Visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov for the latest information on the status of annual catch limits. These species are also managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SFMC) in federal waters.
Sale of snapper grouper under the recreational bag limit is prohibited. For-hire vessels must have a Snapper Grouper permit to fish for these species in federal waters.
The harvest and possession of snapper grouper species by commercial and recreational fishermen will be limited to the recreational bag limit within the Special Management Zones. Greater Amber jack 1 per person per day28-inch FL In April, for-hire vessels are limited to 1 per person/day or 1 per person/trip.
Including but not limited to: Lesser Amber jack; White Grunt; Cup; Almach & Bar Jacks; Margate; White bone, Knob bed, Jolt head, Saucer eye & Long spine Porgies; Banded Rudder fish; Sailors Choice; Bank Sea bass 20 per person per day aggregate with no more than 10 of any one species Rotates are excluded from the bag limit. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council would like to gain a better understanding of what’s happening on the water.
All anglers on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida who intend to fish for or harvest certain reef fish from a private vessel are required to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation. Those with a Gulf Reef Fish Angler designation will meet the statewide requirement until the Gulf designation expires, even if you are fishing on the Atlantic coast.
State: Must have heads and fins intact through landing Gear rules require circle hooks and hooking tools in Gulf waters reef fish fisheries.
Note: In the Atlantic reef fish fishery, gear rules require hooking tools, and as of Jan. 1, 2021, non-stainless steel hooks in all state waters, and non-offset circle hooks N. of 28 ° N. latitude. Several species of Gulf grouper (red, black, scamp, yellow fin and yellow mouth) are closed Feb. 1-March 31 seaward of the 20-fathom break.
Recreational anglers are encouraged to use electronic charting equipment to plot the 20-fathom break by entering the established coordinates listed on the map below into a route. Monroe County: Several species of Atlantic grouper (red, black, yellow fin, yellow mouth, scamp, rock hind, red hind, Coney and grays by) are closed Jan. 1 – April 30 in all state and federal waters of the Atlantic including all state waters off Monroe County (Atlantic and Gulf sides).
During this closure, anglers can harvest grouper in open federal waters of the Gulf and return to port in Monroe County by traveling through closed state waters of the Atlantic as long as the vessel proceeds directly to port without stopping to fish. Western boundary of the 4-county gag grouper recreational harvest region.